How Poor Diet Contributes to Coronavirus Risk

New York Times

Of the many heartbreaking stories I’ve read or heard during this ghastly pandemic, one stands out as especially distressing, almost criminal. The headline, on Page 1 of The Times on April 12, read: “Empty Shelves, But Farms Put Food to Waste — Milk, Eggs and Produce Buried and Dumped.”

That day I was researching food insecurity and soaring rates of metabolic disease as an often overlooked reason for the high risk of Covid-related illness and death among African-Americans, Hispanics and people in poor communities.

The article told of staggering food waste — tens of millions of pounds of fresh food, including 3.7 million gallons of milk a day, that farmers cannot sell because restaurants, hotels and schools were closed in a belated effort to squelch the pandemic. Some of the surplus food was donated to food banks and feeding programs that have been overwhelmed by demands to nourish the needy but have limited ability to store and distribute perishable food.

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